Special report: 2008 Olympic Games
BEIJING, April 16 (Xinhua) -- Online and text message calls for boycotts of French Carrefour and other foreign retailers are circulating in China in response to the disruptions of the Olympic torch relay in Paris.
The calls attempted to mobilize Chinese citizens to boycott purchases in chain stores of Carrefour and Louis Vuitton, a French luxury brand, and Body shop, a cosmetics retailer belonging to L'Oreal SA.
Chinese Internet search engine Baidu turns up about 211,000 entries supporting a boycott of Carrefour. Similar calls have circulated on www.qq.com, a popular chat site, and through mobile phone text messages.
The financial and economic channel of the popular portal www.netease.com posted a survey about a boycott of French products. Among the 43,880 respondents, 95.4 percent were in favor.
The public relations manager of Carrefour in Shanghai, Li Jing, said that the chain had started an investigation of the calls.
"Some Chinese have expressed their opinions and feelings. This is not a coincidence and the French side needs to ponder and reflect upon them," said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu when asked about the Carrefour boycott.
"I believe people will abide by laws and regulations in expressing their reasonable appeals," Jiang added.
On April 7, the torch relay in Paris was interrupted many times. The most notable incident was when several supporters of "Tibetan independence" rushed to wheelchair-bound torch bearer JinJing and tried to snatch away the torch.
However, not everyone in the online community agreed with the idea of boycott. Some pointed out that Carrefour's staff in China were mostly Chinese nationals, who would be hurt by a sales boycott. Others said a boycott wouldn't do anything to penalize backers of "Tibetan independence".
Bai Yansong, a well-known anchorman of China Central Television(CCTV), and He Yanguang, a prominent Chinese photojournalist, openly opposed the boycotts, expressing their concerns over the consequence of such boycotts.
Bai said in his blog that "most of the employees in Carrefour chain stores are Chinese and such boycotts are a kind of faction", calling on Chinese netizens to calm down and have rational emotions.
He Yanguang, chief photographer with China Youth Daily, said Carrefour sells thousands of domestically made products which are produced by millions of Chinese workers.
"If such boycotts are carried out, our Chinese people's interests will be first harmed," He said.
Carrefour China released a statement on Wednesday at its website which pledges that Carrefour has not and will not do anything to hurt Chinese people's feelings.
It insists that the allegations that Carrefour supports illegal political organizations are totally fabricated and lack evidence, noting that the company reserves the right to appeal against any individual or organization who creates and spreads such rumors.